Article by Ceri Wheeldon
Most of us today know someone whose life has been affected by dementia. With an ageing population the incidence of those being diagnosed with dementia will continue to increase.I attended an online webinar talking about the challenges and some of the solutions facing us here in the UK.
Looking ahead to 2030, the number of people living with dementia is estimated to increase to 76 million. The odds of getting dementia are 1 in 100 for those in their 60s, while it’s just 1 in 20 for those in their 70s
I was amazed to learn that in some parts of the UK, only 20% of those with dementia are actually diagnosed.
So what are the key issues?
Professor Graham Stokes who is the Global Director of Dementia Care at Bupa has over 20 years experience of working in the field of dementia. While he applauds the inroads made in greater awareness of dementia, and initiatives such as Dementia Friends, he believes we still have a long way to go to become ‘Dementia Inclusive’ and that we should take a person centric approach to supporting and caring for those with dementia. The road of a oerson with dementia is a long one from diagnosis , lasting many years. Currently, in the early stages care and support is provided primarily by family. By the time the condition becomes acute enough to warrant NHS intervention and support the carers within the family are exhausted, and the dementia patient frustrated and demoralised. The more we can learn to be dementia inclusive as a society, the better the quality of life of the person living with dementia.
Professor June Andrews of the University of Stirling says: ‘A dementia friendly society is one where people are aware of it and help their neighbours, but it also has to be one where the people who set themselves up to look after people with dementia really know what they’re doing and give confidence to the people who receive their services.’
Working Age Dementia
Professor Andrews discusses the issues facing those who are still working with dementia. Many of the users of support for dementia are elderly ladies in their eighties, but the needs of these patients is very different to the needs of those of working age who are diagnosed with dementia. Those with dependents have very different issues. Often those with the early stages of dementia have not yet been diagnosed, and are not yet aware that their failing performance in the workplace is due to dementia- they may be demoted or fired before knowing the reason behind their inability to perform at work. If you have a physical disability it is very apparent, and employers have a legal responsibility to accommodate this in the workplace – but dementia does not fall into the category of being a disability – yet!
Professor Stokes also pointed out that we face an ageing workforce. With the delay in pension age, people will be working for longer – perhaps into their 70s. This means the incidence of those being diagnosed with dementia while still working will increase, so we need to address how to be dementia inclusive in the workplace.
How can people with dementia continue to work? They have years of knowledge and experience – how can their skills be used in a way in which they can still perform? They had an interesting interview with a headmaster who was diagnosed in his mid 50s who explained the coping mechanisms he developed to continue to work for longer.
Technology can help
Technology does exist, and is constantly being developed to help improve the quality of life of those with dementia and their carers but nothing can replace human interaction.
Overall, the theme of the webinar was how much we needed to act to be dementia friendly and inclusive , as well as dementia aware. The responsibility will rest with us as a society to care, support, respect and include those with dementia – and their families.
I am including links for both the highlights and full version- well worth watching by all those affected by dementia, either directly or indirectly.
Dementia Webinar highlights video
Full dementia webinar
If you want to find out more about the dementia webinar and its findings you can access the full info here http://www.bupa.co.uk/Newsroom/OurViews/dementia-webinar-overview
General information and advice on dementia can be accessed here : https://www.bupa.co.uk/health-information/Dementia
This post is sponsored by Bupa